Choosing a name for a child is a challenge. Parents want unique but not strange, special but easy to spell and pronounce. Naming a child is one of the first major decisions a parent will make for their offspring, and it can be extremely intimidating.
While there are parents who know they want super masculine or feminine names for their children, others don’t care. They are okay with someone seeing their child’s name on a list and not knowing for sure if it’s a girl or boy name.
For years, parents have been choosing names for their children that straddle the gender line. Some parents fall in love with a name and don’t care that it doesn’t have a specific designation as a girl or boy name. Other parents intentionally choose unisex names because they aren’t finding out the gender of their baby, but want a name beforehand that will go with either a boy or a girl. Whatever the reason, unisex names have been around for centuries and continue to remain popular.
While most of these names are used more widely by one gender than the other, they are all considered acceptable names for both boys and girls. In fact, any child at school with one of these names will probably have a child in their classroom of the opposite gender who has the exact same name. A girl named Alex may end up dating a boy with her same name. Think about the Taylor Swift/Taylor Lautner pairing up years ago.
Gender neutral names are versatile and classic, and mom and dad may find just the name they are looking for on this list.
Alex is generally considered a nickname that in boys is short for Alexander and for girls Alexandria, Alexandra, or Alexis. However, the name can stand on its own without the need for a longer name to define it.
Alex means “defending men” and is a name that is split equally in use among both genders. Alex is considered a classic name that has been around for centuries and harkens back to the days of Alexander the Great. The name has also been used by other kings, poets, inventors, and has most recently been brought back into the public eye with the play “Hamilton”, whose lead character is none other than Alexander Hamilton.
The name derives from Greek and is popular throughout the world. It’s considered a name that exudes strength whether it is given to a boy or a girl. The short, powerful, four-letter name is simple yet sleek and is great for any child.
Avery is a unisex name, but parents should know this one is gaining more popularity as a girls' name as of late. In fact, it was ranked number 16 for girl names in 2015, but for boys it only came in at number 187.
The name means “ruler of elves”, though it is said to mean “wise” or “ruling with elf-wisdom” in French. Originally a surname, this name came from the male name Alfred, and it has a male literary connection since it was the name of Fern’s brother in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.
For a girl, Avery is a great alternative to the overused Ava that has saturated the market. Though not as girly, it still has the same beginning sound that rolls off the tongue easily. For a boy, it’s a strong, unique name. There aren’t as many boys named Avery as girls anymore, so this is a good choice for a parent who wants her child to have a unique name for their gender.
The meaning of Cameron is “crooked nose”, so it doesn’t exactly offer a lot in that department. With a Scottish origin, this name was also a common surname before becoming a unisex first name.
For boys, this name is extremely popular, coming in at number 56 in the United States in 2015. On the girls’ side, it has broken into the top 600, mainly because of actresses like Cameron Diaz and Camryn Manheim.
In other parts of the world, the name is also extremely popular for boys, and no one knows how high it will climb for girls. Right now, Cameron is an easily recognizable name that would still be unique for a little girl, though she may share a classroom with a ton of boys who have her name.
Nicknames for Cameron include Cam or Cami, and there are many ways to spell it. Different spellings help add uniqueness to the name.
Carson started out as a last name, and now it is a popular name for boys. However, it’s creeping into the girl’s naming market, which is a common trend with unisex names. Many start as surnames, saturate the male market and then star being used as girl names.
Carson means “son of the marsh dwellers”, and for parents who want a unique name for a boy, this is not it. Carson is on the top 100 list for males right now.
Novelist Carson McCullers brought this name into the female realm for girls, and many predict that it will become popular for females soon enough. It has Irish and Scottish roots, and it would be a great name to give a girl if mom wanted to honor a family member with this surname.
While still considered unisex, Carson is more associated with males. This would be a great time for parents who want an exceptional name for a girl to grab it. They may end up being trendsetters.
Casey is a popular gender neutral name. It came onto the scene in the 1960s, and many children born in the 1980s bare this name since that is when it became the most popular for both genders.
Meaning “brave in battle” and of Irish origin, Casey is a name that is still in the top 1000 names for girls and boys. It was immortalized in Ernest Thayer’s poem, “Casey at the Bat.”
Casey is a good first or middle name, and though it has been around forever, its declining popularity since the 1980s means not every child has this name. Parents can play with the spelling, trading the ey ending for just an i, or they can use ie.
Actor Casey Affleck helped keep this name in the spotlight for guys, while accused murderer Casey Anthony somewhat sullied it for girls.
Since this name is timeless, parents don’t have to worry about people having never heard of it ten years from now. It has staying power.
In some countries, Charlie is more popular for boys and in others it’s rising as a girls’ name, but one thing is certain: using what used to be considered nicknames as full names is completely acceptable.
Though Charlie is usually a nickname for Charles in boys, many are opting to use this name on its own. Meaning “free man”, this name is universally known and is the moniker for Charlie Brown and the title character from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
For girls Charlie is sometimes short for Charlotte, but mom and dad don’t have to give their baby girl a different name. Many just choose Charlie. Since the early 2000s, this name has increased in use for little ladies, and with its cute charm, it’s easy to see why.
Charlie is a name that can grow with a child, which is probably part of the reason its use as a full first name has become more acceptable.
Corey was the name in the 1970s and 1980s, but it has fallen out of favor for both sexes since the 1990s. Actors Corey Feldman and Corey Haim made this name popular for boys, while parents seemed to prefer spelling this name Cori for little girls.
Lori and Tori, Corey’s rhyming cousins, were also popular during the same time Corey had its time in the sun. With an Irish origin and meaning “from the hollow”, this name has a nature connection and might work well for those from Irish ancestry.
Corey is still a great middle name, and for parents who want a recognizable name with a retro vibe, Corey might be a good choice. Though no longer particularly trendy, this name falls in the top 500 names for boys in the United States, though for girls it didn’t make the list at all.
Best known as a state name, Dakota means “friendly one” and is of Sioux origin. Dakota is used for both boys and girls almost equally, making it a truly gender neutral name.
Dakota Fanning, the popular actress who started starring in movies as a child, gave this name a feminine flair. This name was most popular in the 1990s, but though it’s not as popular now, this name still ranks in the top 250 for girls and the top 400 for boys.
Dakota is unique enough to stand out for either gender, and it’s also a great middle name. For parents with a special connection to either North or South Dakota, or for those who are connected to the Sioux people, Dakota can serve as a meaningful name to pass down to a child. It’s also perfect for a friendly child who never meets a stranger.
Dana Carvey, comedian and Wayne’s World actor, helped bring this name into the spotlight for males, but Dana is also a great name for girls. Dana means “from Denmark”, and it was a popular name from the 1960s to the 1990s. However, since then it’s fallen as a popular name for either gender.
Once considered exclusively male, this name is now mostly given to girls when it’s used at all. Singer and actress Queen Latifah is named Dana.
Taken from the surname Dane, Dana could make a comeback for those with Danish connections. For those who want a spiritual name, in Hebrew Dana means “God is my judge.” Though not popular anymore, this name is good for those who want to take the retro route. It’s easy to spell and say, and it has the appeal of those short, four-letter names that are simple.
Actress Drew Barrymore is probably the most popular female Drew out there right now, and the name actually means “strong and manly”. It’s also often short for Andrew, and in Barrymore’s case it was the surname of her great-grandmother.
This name is chosen more for males than females with celebrities like Drew Carey and singer Drew Lachey carrying this name for the male side. The name can stand on its on without needing Andrew as an actual first name, and since the 1940s it’s been a strong male name.
Though it still ranks in the top 400 for men, this name is not so masculine that it can’t work for a girl. In fact, Jessica Simpson recently chose Drew as a middle name for her daughter.
Drew is a great connecting middle name, but for parents of little girls who want something unique for females, this is a wonderful first name option.
Jamie means “supplanter” which is defined as a ruler, and the name has been used for both genders, especially during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. For boys, this name represents a shortened version of the name James, but even James has crossed over to the unisex list with actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively choosing it for their oldest daughter.
Jamie has Scottish roots and is short and sassy, a good combination for any child. Though it’s not as popular now as in years past, it still ranks in the top 1000 names for boys, though not for girls. Still, the ie ending lends it towards a girl’s name as much as a boy’s, and with James crossing over to the girls' list on occasion, Jamie could be short for a girl named James.
This name, at least in celebrity circles, may be making a comeback, but even if it doesn’t, it’s a simple, solid choice for both sexes.
Jordan was a very popular gender neutral name in the 1990s, but since then more boys have been given the name than girls. Originating from Hebrew and meaning “flowing down” in reference to the river of Jordan, it’s a great name for any parent who wants a strong Biblical connection. Since Jesus was said to be baptized in the River Jordan in Palestine, it’s a also a strong Christian name.
Even though it is a less popular name for girls, Jordan still ranks in the top 300 names for females. In the United States, the name was ranked number 60 for boys in 2015.
Jordan Knight of the band New Kids on the Block kept this name in the spotlight for boys in the 1990s. Jordan is also a surname, and athlete Michael Jordan is one of the most famous celebrities with this last name.
Justice is a name based off the word of the same name, and it is a great gender neutral pick for those concerned with, well, justice. Fair and virtuous, pretty much everyone agrees with the concept of justice.
There was a Roman name spelled Justus that was meant for males, but that hasn’t affected this name remaining unisex. While this name lands in the top 500 for girls, it is at 525 for boys making it almost equally used between both genders. However, many predict that Justice may move to the exclusively girl side in the future, so that’s something for parents of little boys to think about.
This name gained popularity in the 1990s and demonstrates staying power with its popularity continuing today. For the parent who wants more than a word name for a first name, Justice is a solid middle name connector.
An Irish gender neutral name that has been around for ages, Kelly is one of those names that may not be everywhere, but it’s here to stay. For girls it still ranked in the top 500 in 2015, but for boys it fell off as a popular male name around the 1970s.
The name means “war” or “warrior”. Kelly can be spelled Kelli, Kellie, Kelley, and Keli, and many parents play with the spelling to make the name more unique. However, for boys Kelly is now a unique name since this moniker now belongs mostly to females.
Singer Kelly Clarkson, former Destiny Child’s singer Kelly Rowland, and reality TV personality Kelly Osbourne are a few famous Kellys, but the list continues. There are some famous male Kellys, like musician Kelly Slater, but this would be a unique retro pick for the parents of a boy.
Kelsey Grammar, the actor most famous for his role on the TV show Frasier, is probably one of the best known male Kelseys. The name means “island”, and it is now most commonly considered a female name.
Kelsey was on top 100 lists for a girl name in Scotland in the early 2000s and for both England and Wales in the 1990s. That doesn’t mean it isn’t suitable for males, but that does mean that a little boy with this name might take some grief for how dominant it is in girls.
However, the name is low enough in rank for both genders that it might not make a difference. Since this name isn’t as popular, a boy named Kelsey could easily be the only Kelsey anyone knows, so it might still work for boys. For girls, it rhymes with the popular unisex Kelly and is cute while also being mature enough to grow with the child into a woman.
An obviously popular surname that brings forth images of the Kennedy family with their almost Camelot-like existence, Kennedy has also been a first name for some time. The Irish name means “misshapen head”, but it’s connection to America’s only example of a royal family offers it a sophistication that goes beyond the meaning.
For girls, this name was in the top 60 in 2015, giving off a classic feel that any child would love. Unfortunately, it’s popularity as a first name for girls has made it less of a choice for boys, causing it not to rank high in popularity for men at all.
However, with images of Robert or John F. Kennedy as guides, parents could easily offer this as a masculine name for a boy and be just fine. There is nothing overly feminine about the name, and as is true with most previous surnames, they tend to translate to either gender.
Probably best known for being a middle name, Lee is also usually followed by the name Ann for girls. Derived from English and meaning “pasture or meadow”, this name can also be spelled Leigh, though that generally denotes it as specifically female.
For boys this name still ranks in the top 100, but it was used so often in previous years that it is no longer a go-to choice for parents who want something original. However, the one syllable simplicity gives the name a carefree feel, and parents can add a unique middle name if they are looking for some flair.
Though probably still a better middle name choice, parents shouldn’t outright reject Lee as a first name. It is retro and has fallen out of use enough that kids won’t have to worry about everyone else having their name. Lee is also a surname, like most names on this list.
Often associated with females more than males, Leslie is a unisex name that has been on the scene for decades. It’s Scottish and means “garden of holly”, and it’s a surname that is favored more by parents of females than males at this point.
Leslie ranks in the top 100 names for girls, and it has pretty much since it came on the scene. For boys, the name fell out of favor, diving off the top 1000 list in the late 1990s and never making its way back on.
Of course, there could be a comeback for Leslie as a male name, but right now it is perfect for the parent of a little boy who wants a unique name. They just have to remember that it will be unique for boys, not girls, meaning a boy named Leslie may have girls in his class with the same name.
Originating from Scottish and meaning “small hollow”, this name is huge for boys in Wales and Scotland, and in the United States it’s in the top 20 for males. However, it had its fun as a girls' name until it began to decline in the 1990s. Despite that decline, it’s still considered a unisex name.
Logan is the name of an airport and of Wolverine, the character from X-Men. The Gilmore Girls reunion helped put this name back in the spotlight for boys since Logan is the name of one of Rory’s boyfriends.
Logan also works for a girl despite the fact that a girl named Logan will likely be surrounded by boys with her name. It’s recognizable, and its simplicity doesn’t make it any less appealing. Logan works for a middle name, and it’s a great choice for a parent who wants a name for their child before they arrive but isn’t finding out the gender.
Meaning “sea-circle” and having a Welsh origin, Morgan is a great name for either gender. In Wales this name is still considered more of a contender for boys, but in the United States, more girls receive this moniker. Actors Morgan Freeman and Morgan Fairchild prove that it works either way.
King Arthur’s half-sister, Morgan le Fay, made this name popular for girls, and stories about her being a sorceress keep this name firmly associated with girls. Still, in other parts of the world it is assumed to be male, and there is no doubt that it is not a frilly name. Part of the reason it works as a gender neutral name is that there is no hint in the spelling or the way it is spoken to tip it to one side or the other.
Morgan is also a surname, so most people have heard it or know someone who carries it as a last name. It is fairly popular, but it’s not so trendy that every child walking down the street has it.
The most popular Reese right now is none other than Ms. Witherspoon who has been in films since she was a child. Because of this, many people view Reese as a name for a girl, but that’s not the case. Reese is actually Witherspoon’s mom’s surname, and this name used to be exclusively male. However, now it is a top 10 unisex name, perfect for a little boy or girl.
Originating from Welsh and meaning “ardor”, it’s in the top 200 names for girls while only at 701 for boys. However, some parents are choosing to spell this name Rhys for boys, meaning there may be more boys out there with a variation of this name than are counted.
Prior to 2003, Reese was still fairly popular for boys, and it may make a comeback or completely lose traction as parents choose the Rhys spelling. Either way, it’s a beautiful, one syllable name that is trendy without being pretentious.
Coming from French and meaning “rebirth”, this name has ranked in the top 1000 names for boys for the last century. However, those outside of France might be surprised to hear that since it is considered a girls’ name in other parts of the world. Whichever gender mom chooses to give this name to, it’s short, sweet, and elegant all at the same time.
Even though many associate Rene with girls, the name is not particularly popular for females. Actress Renee Zellweger keeps this name in the public eye, but parents are opting more for Renae or Renny, or the spelling like Zellweger’s that adds the extra e. That makes the simple, four-letter Rene ripe for a comeback.
Rene is also used as a middle name often, but it can lead as a first name. Paired with almost any surname, it fits quite well. For parents looking for a name that has staying power but is a bit retro, Rene would make a great choice.
This gender neutral name means “little redhead” and is perfect for gingers of both sexes. It’s of Scottish and Irish origin, and as with many names on this list, it started out as a surname.
With spellings ranging from Roan to Rowen, this name has been used by celebrities like Sharon Stone, who gave the name to her son, and Brooke Shields, who chose it for her daughter. It’s in the top 350 names for both genders making it pretty equally split between boys and girls. Though some believe this name is drawn from the name Rowena, therefore designating it for girls, others believe it was a gender neutral choice from the start.
This name is strong and popular enough to be recognizable but not have saturated the naming market. It goes well with most last names and is perfect for a spunky child, whether they are a redhead or not!
Sam is often a nickname for both the girl name, Samantha, and the boy name, Samuel. It’s a classic that shows no sign of going out of style. Meaning “told by God”, Sam is rarely given as a name on its own, though there are more boys named Sam than girls. However, between all of the girls named Samantha but called Sam and all of the boys named Samuel who go by Sam, this name is everywhere.
Sammy is also a common nickname when a child is given one of the longer versions of Sam, and the beauty of this name is that it works for a person at any age. While young children might not mind being called Sammy, they may crave the longer version of their names as they age, or they might lop off the last two letters of Sammy and go by the simpler, strong Sam. However, Sammy Hagar of the band Van Halen has no problem carrying the nickname Sammy with into old age.
Taylor Swift let the world know that Taylor can absolutely be a girl’s name, and then when she briefly dated Taylor Lautner we all understood that two people with unisex names could date and apparently not be too confused.
In fact, the name Taylor has been around for girls for a while. It was actually in the top 10 for years before dropping into the 70s, probably due to being overly popular. Taylor is an occupational name that means “tailor”, and it is also a surname.
For boys, this name is still in the top 500, and it could remain strong for boys in the future. Right now it is seen more as a girl’s name.
Tay is a solid nickname, and the simplicity of Taylor also makes it a good choice for a middle name. Unique for a boy, common place for a girl, Taylor still works no matter what gender baby mom has.